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How Serena Williams is helping end the absolute scam that is women's razors

“The shaving industry is dominated by male brands which have traditionally overcharged and underserved women.”

Bathroom essentials.🛁✨📸@emlysmms

A post shared by Billie (@billie) on

EARLIER THIS WEEK, it was reported that tennis player and all-around superhuman Serena Williams had invested in Billie, a woman’s razor start-up. The company, which has also been endorsed by Lena Dunham and Drew Barrymore, offers a subscription to shaving supplies and related products at an affordable price.

Crucially, its products don’t carry the levy of the “pink tax,” which refers to the extra amount women are charged for certain products and services enjoyed by men for a fraction of the price.

“I’m proud to become an investor in Billie, an inclusive female body brand that’s raising awareness and tackling this inequity head on,” Williams said in a statement. “The shaving industry is dominated by male brands which have traditionally overcharged and underserved women.”

At first glance, Billie appears to be aimed at the Glossier demographic. Its social media is all seductive millennial pink hues, succulent plants and celebrity throwback photos. It positions itself as a feminist company fighting good fight.  “Women shouldn’t be an afterthought in the shaving category,” it proclaims, fist aloft in the air. “We deserve to have a great shave and no, we’re not paying more for it.”

I fully expect to hear it advertised on every podcast over the next twelve months.

PastedImage-83727 Source: Billie, Instagram

But while Billie’s branding strategy might be all too familiar, the service itself is a little bit genius. It taps into a frustration long held by women, namely that women’s razors are too damn expensive and often not as good as their male counterparts. In fact, it’s almost a wonder it took so long for a service like Billie to emerge.

As someone who has been shaving since I was a teenager, I have long been of the opinion that women’s razors are a scam. They are not nearly as effective as men’s razors yet we are often expected to pay significantly more for them. Women are essentially expected to dole out extra for the privilege of shaving their armpits with something pink that’s scented vaguely like pineapple Schnapps. The best a woman can get, they ain’t.

Everywhere you look, women’s razors are conning you. There are the disposable razors that leave you covered in cuts and bumps; the glamorous razors that are half price in Boots, but whose replacement blades will set you back a small fortune; and the women’s razors that are to men’s razors what plastic knives are to steak knives.

And don’t even get me started on the ads. You know the ones. They show women dragging razors across skin that has been rendered hairless through either CGI or laser treatment. They tell you that you’re not just shaving, you’re unleashing your inner goddess. They whisper, “You know your boyfriend’s crisp white shirt? Shave your legs and you’ll be able to wear it as a dress.”

It’s infuriating.

Women are forced to bear the brunt of the pink tax every day. We pay more for razors, deodorant, shaving cream, body wash, moisturisers, and more. And that’s before you get to exorbitantly priced tampons. Oh, the joys!

By comparison, Billie charges $9 (roughly €7.90) for a starter kit, which includes a new razor and two cartridges. You can then arrange to have four replacement cartridges shipped to your house at one month, two month or three month intervals for $9.

A far cry from 3-4 cartridges for €15, eh?

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 5.24.51 PM Source: Boots

The subscription service is still in its early days and is not available outside of the United States just yet. But so far it deserves credit for making consumers aware of the pink tax and offering an affordable (and Instagrammable) alternative. Here’s hoping something similar comes to these shores soon. In the meantime, I’ll be using men’s razors.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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